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Western films, from silent to today

Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1973)

Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1973) poster The year is 1836. The U.S. has won the war with Mexico, leading to the formation of the Republic of Texas. Sam Houston, president of Texas, is working to make the territory part of the United States.

But rebels, led by Gen. Lucius Morton, are plotting to keep Texas independent, and they’re receiving assistance from foreign powers, including Germany.

So Houston dispatches ace spy Erasius Smith (Anthony Quinn) to stop the rebels. Being deaf, Smith will be accompanied by his friend, Johnny Ears (Franco Nero).

The rebels will stop at nothing to maintain Texas independence. They massacre the McDonald family — women and children included — and they’re awaiting a shipment of guns and ammunition to wipe out the last of the resistance.

But Smith is able to locate their stronghold. Problem is, Johnny Ears has found a reason not to risk his life yet again — a pretty whore named Susie (Pamela Tiffin) with a mole on her bottom.

Rating 2 out of 6Review:

Very little works here. Not the overacting by Franco Nero. Not the quarreling between the two. Not the score.

And then there’s the fact that everyone is armed with weapons that wouldn’t have been available in 1836. The rebels have just received a Gatling gun, for crying out loud.

If you’re looking for a bright spot, there’s the initial “sparks” between Nero and Tiffin. He spots her bathing nude, proclaims “what an ass” and becomes obsessed with her mole.

Then he discovers she’s a prostitute who can be bought for $10 and becomes obsessed with more than the mole. They eventually dream of running off together to his gold mine.

Tiffin spends a lot of time running around in a nightie that’s see-through from the waist up, holding this and that up to her chest. But then she seems to forget from time to time.

But if you’re looking for a Western worth watching, just about any Quinn or Nero film you choose will be better than this.

Directed by:
Paolo Cavara

Franco Nero … Johnny Ears
Anthony Quinn … Deaf Smith
Pamela Tiffin … Susie
Franco Graziosi … Gen. Lucius Morton
Adolfo Lastretti … Williams, aka The Reverend
Antonino Faa Di Bruno … The Senator
Ira von Furstenberg … Hester Morton
Renato Romano … J.M. Hoffman
Francesca Benedetti … Mrs. Porter, the Madame
Conchia Airoldi … Rosita McDonald
Renzo Moneta … Col. Mitchell McDonald

Runtime: 91 min.

Los Amigos

Memorable lines:

Madam at whorehouse: “That will be $10.”
Johnny Ears: “For what? I haven’t done nothing yet.”
Madam: “Ten dollars is the entrance fee.”
Johnny Ears: “Just to sit down?”
Madam: “That’s right.”
Johnny Ears: “Then I’ll stand. I didn’t come here to spend $10 just to rest my ass.”

Johnny Ears: “What’s wrong with me?”
Suzie: “Well, first of all, you stink.”
Johnny Ears: “Hey, lady, you’re smelling a real man.”

Johnny Ears to Deaf Smith: “I told you before — one thing you can’t interfere with is my screwing!”

Johnny Ears to Deaf Smith as he argues against risking their lives: “All you can think about is being a big man. Erastus Smith can do things nobody else can do. You got to be a big hero. You got to be a big somebody. That’s what keeps you going. Can’t you get it into your thick skull that you’re deaf and dumb. You’re nobody without me.”

Johnny Ears to Deaf Smit, after they’ve planted dynamite: “Such a pity. You’re gonna miss the loudest bang in Texas.”

Johnny Ears: “My old man used to say, ‘Take a pan of water, put some coffee in it, boil it, throw a horseshoe in it. If the horseshoe sinks, add more coffee.”


The film is set in the 1830s, after the Texas Revolution. Yet the enemies of Sam Houston have somehow come across a Gatling gun the likes of which wouldn’t be seen until after the Civil War some 30 years later.

Considered one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars in the early 1960s, former brunette Pamela Tiffin made just three films after this. She had gone to Italy to get away from a failed marriage and wound up marrying a second time in 1974 and retiring from acting.

There really was a Texas frontiersman named Deaf Smith who took part in the Texas revolution, but he was only partially deaf. Deaf Smith County, Texas, is named in his honor.

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